Eutelsat to invest €7m in Irish broadband rollout

1 May 2009

A subsidiary of European satellite internet provider Eutelsat is to invest €7m in building its own satellite communications hub for its operations.

The company will be making its Tooway satellite broadband service available to rural homes and those in ‘slowband’ areas for €25 for access to 2Mbps broadband services.

The €7m investment will be made via Skylogic, a subsidiary of Eutelsat.

According to the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg), only 62.6pc of homes in Ireland currently have a broadband connection to the internet.

The Tooway service offers two-way satellite access to users, without the need for a telephone line, delivering speeds of 2Mbps on the downlink and 256Kbps on the uplink.

The service is also triple play-ready, allowing distributors to offer additional TV and IP telephony services using the same equipment.

Sold in Ireland via the certified local distributors Satellite Broadband Ireland and Digiweb, the Tooway solution consists of a small satellite dish and a modem connected to the PC via Ethernet, giving customers Internet access following a simple installation.

The rollout of the Tooway service is expected to drive additional installation, customer service and support job opportunities as the local distributors expand.

“Tooway will help eliminate the digital divide in Ireland by revolutionising the consumer market for satellite internet access,” said Arduino Patacchini, director of multimedia and value-added services at Eutelsat.

“Tooway is able to offer true broadband access with total independence from existing infrastructures. It has the technology and capacity to become the definitive, low-cost solution for geographical areas, bringing broadband to all,” Patacchini added.

Tooway is the first satellite two-way broadband service offering similar speeds and costs to ADSL. The service is based on Eutelsat’s satellite coverage, Skylogic’s operating experience and ViaSat’s SurfBeam technology.

The technology used by Tooway comes to Europe having acquiring extensive experience on the North American market, where ViaSat already provides the equipment and network for over 400,000 homes, with satellite broadband access fully independent from the terrestrial network.

Tooway is already serving customers in 20 European countries including Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Switzerland and the UK, with other countries across Europe rolling out over the coming months.

Tooway operates in the Ku-band in Ireland. It is delivered using Eutelsat’s EuroBird 3 satellite at 33-degrees east.

In 2010, Eutelsat will expand the service with additional high-speed internet access up to 10Mbps. This will come from the launch of KA-SAT, a dedicated new satellite from Eutelsat, specifically designed for broadband delivery in Europe.

The satellite, which has the combined capacity of 40 traditional satellites, will enable Eutelsat to deliver internet access to up to two million European homes at a similar speed, price and quality to that of terrestrial ADSL2 services.

The programme will involve a total investment by the Eutelsat group of €7m in Ireland, building a new satellite communications hub as an essential part of the new KA-SAT infrastructure.

By John Kennedy

Pictured:  Minister of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Eamon Ryan TD, and Arduino Patacchini, multimedia department director of Eutelsat